Socio-economic actions and environmental changes play a vital role in determining the prices of core commodities. Undoubtedly, the availability of commodities can change the dynamics in supply chain relationships. It is in the interest of suppliers to forge fruitful and collaborative working relationships with their customers. For instance, farm workers are demanding bigger shares from the profits of wine producers, coffee makers and the like. In this day and age, businesses will have to look at new ‘shared value’ models as customers are often expecting greater reliability, higher quality, reduced lead times and frequent deliveries from their suppliers.
‘Creating shared value’ needs to address not only value chain requirements but to ensure that programmes are built on joint principles. Of course, many businesses may be genuinely interested in investing in philanthropic initiatives. However, this particular proposition suggests that businesses can leverage themselves as they gain a competitive advantage. Inevitably, this notion suggests that there is a need for co-creative and innovative approaches rather than blueprints.
“Take Novartis as an example. They saw a shared value opportunity in selling their pharmaceuticals in rural India, where 70% of the population lives. The obstacle was not the prices they charged but the social conditions in the region: a chronic lack of health-seeking behaviour in the community, healthcare providers with virtually no healthcare training, and tens of thousands of local clinics without a reliable supply chain. Looking through a shared value lens, Novartis saw these social problems as business opportunities: they hired hundreds of community health educators, held training camps for providers, and built up a distribution system to 50,000 rural clinics.
For Novartis, the result was an entirely new business model that is essential to their future. In the coming decade, emerging markets with similar challenges are predicted to account for 75% of the growth in global pharmaceutical sales. For 42 million people in India, the results are access to a vastly improved level of healthcare that neither government nor NGOs were providing.
Or consider Southwire, a US company that manufactures wire and cable in a small town in Georgia. Their machinists were retiring and the local high school, burdened by a 40% dropout rate, wasn’t producing the workforce they needed. So Southwire partnered with the school, opened a factory nearby to employ the most at-risk students, part-time, using attractive wages as an incentive, and mentored their academic performance. Nearly 100% of the students in the Southwire program completed high school, and 1/3 went on to become Southwire employees. And, by the way, that factory near the school generates a million dollar annual profit.
These examples are not examples of corporate social responsibility or sustainability. They are examples of businesses grabbing hold of a social issue that is at the core of their business, and figuring out how to wrap that into their strategy and operations. These companies are using the resources and capabilities of business to solve very specific social problems in ways that are aligned with the company’s strategy, that strengthen its competitive positioning, and that enable it to make more money” (More details are available in the Guardian – Better ways of doing business: Creating Shared Value).